“The customer is always right”, right?
There are many catchphrases in different languages that point out the importance of customer-centricity.
Some of these catchphrases are decades old and they simply carry a piece of advice from people who have greatly benefited from being customer-centric or in other words client-centric.
Where do these words come from then?
What is customer centric strategy?
A customer-centric strategy, or in other words client-centric strategy, is placing your customers at the center of your business. By providing a distinguished customer experience, customer-centric businesses try to build a powerful bond with their customers, which in return turns into a win-win long lasting relationship.
A Brief History of Customer-Centric Approach
One of the most significant customer-centric approach examples is Harry Gordon Selfridge’s business model.
An American-British retail magnate, Selfridge fundamentally challenged the notion of shopping for necessity and put forward the notion of shopping for pleasure.
Selfridges was a store that was completely designed for the needs, desires, and pleasure of its customers. The floors of its shops were structured in order to make goods more accessible to the customers, its restaurants were elegant, and it had many other places such as libraries, reading rooms, writing rooms, and a first aid room.
When all of these masterfully placed goods and services combined with the assistance of staff members who were skillfully trained, it didn’t take long for Selfridges to take the number one place.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”Warren Buffet
CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
You should keep in mind that consistency is the hardest part of being a customer-centric company. You should support and care about your customer through thick and thin. There may be times when it takes a lot of effort and profit off of your company to be customer-centric, yet you will collect its fruits in the long term.
So, you should never give up being customer-centric.
Why Should You be Customer-Centric?
Research by Deloitte suggests that companies that are customer-centric are 60% more profitable than the ones that are not.
Compared to product-centric companies, customer-centric companies are more profitable because they know that their products are only as good as their customers can make use of them.
Imagine that you have the best product that is out there but you can’t somehow get past the steps of increasing product adoption. If your existing customers or potential customers are not provided with help when deciding to use your products, or when facing problems while using your products, they will eventually give up using your products.
And yes, they will stop using your products even if they are one of the best that are out there.
“The customer’s perception is your reality.”Kate Zabriskie
Director of Media Delivery at Three Ships
Being customer-centric has a very simple reason other than the fact that the customer is the one who actually pays for your products or services. The reason is that if you provide an excellent customer experience with a customer-centric mindset, your customers will turn into your brand advocates. In other words, your customers will help you improve your business in significant ways such as:
- Helping promote your business by passing it down by word of mouth
- Giving feedback on what you can do better
- Advocating your business
- Generating fans for you
The fact that your customers do all these voluntarily will give others a better insight into your business.
Survey by Nielsen suggests that 83% of people say that they trust the recommendations of family and friends. This is a strong indicator that it is crucial to be customer-centric and provide an excellent customer experience through strategies such as having a customer advocacy program.
How do you create a customer centric strategy?
If you want your customer-centric strategy to succeed, here are some must-follow practices:
1- You should have a customer advocacy program to combine employee talent with a customer-centric mindset.
Let’s distinguish customer advocacy from brand advocacy at this point.
Customer advocacy or client advocacy is a customer service provided by an employee of a company to help increase customer experience.
Brand advocacy, on the other hand, is customers promoting and advocating for your service or your product that they love and trust.
That is to say, by having a good customer advocacy program companies are able to create brand advocates that help them grow their business in the most natural and effective way.
Keep in mind that employees are at the forefront of your business. Since they are the human touch of your business, their approach and image will directly be associated with your company. This is why when hiring, you should look for someone who can internalize customer-centricity, and furthermore, when onboarding new employees, build an employee training program for customer-centricity to help them better combine the talent and the mindset.
The customer advocates of your company should make customers feel that they are on their side no matter what. They are the advocates of customers. This is why they are eager to help customers with their problems, decisions about buying the best quality products, and also with pricing.
2- Attach Importance to customer feedback
Customer feedback is one of the most beneficial aspects of the relationship between a customer and a business. Customers will give you feedback that no one in your company may have ever thought of. When you put enough importance into customer feedback and the customer sees this, they will have the feeling that their desires are cared about; and in doing so, they will be emotionally attached to your business.
To explain in only one sentence: Do not put your customer in the position of the other, on the contrary, incorporate them into your business.
3- Collect and use data accordingly
As “customer success is so important, and it is driven, in part, by the data you have”, your customer-centricity should be built around the data you have. Different from the feedback that you get back from your customers, a CRM database can include what you actually don’t hear from the customers. It helps you better identify issues and the good things you do. It also helps you better understand the desires and needs of your customer.
4- Reward your customers
Rewarding your customers is one of the most obvious ways to show your customers that they play an important role in growing your business. Giving away free products or services will only strengthen the loyalty of your customers.
Is it only giving away free products or services that helps this relationship grow stronger?
You can also hold preview events and invite your customers to those events. This also shows your customers that you involve them into the processes of your business.
Rewarding referrals is one of the most motivating aspects of a customer-centric business. This will only create a chain reaction and your customers will be more likely to promote your business to family, friends, and people on social media through word of mouth.
5- Share success stories
Sharing success stories is another powerful method to motivate your existing and potential customers. To simplify why sharing success stories is important: It is like telling people that “hey don’t take our word for it, but instead, take a look at the story of a fellow customer”.
In the age of the internet, sharing success stories is a great amplifier.
6- Guide your customers through the each process of their engagement with your business
Last but not least, guiding customers is one of the most underrated aspects of a successful business. As I claimed earlier in the article, your product is only as successful as the extent your customers can make use of it.
So, it is your responsibility to guide your customers through the process of product adoption.
It is again your responsibility to make it as simple as you can for your customers to learn how to make use of your product in the best way possible.
Examples to Customer Centric Companies
Let’s put aside all the negative and positive opinions about Starbucks for now and focus on a solid fact about how Starbucks mastered its ability to come up with the needs of its customers. That is, the need for a more efficient service. Starbucks did not only Identify the needs of the people who are mostly short on time but also listened to their feedback and tried to provide them with the most efficient product and service that they can. In this respect, this is why their loyalty program did not only focus on giving discounts but also offering in-store pickups. This is how you make it easier for customers!
A great great customer-centricity example that will surely put smiles on your face comes upon a three-year-old customer’s request. The lovely three-year-old customer, Lily Robinson, one day realizes that Sainsbury’s “tiger bread” actually looks like “giraffe bread” and decides to call Sainsbury’s for a request to change the name of the bread accordingly.
What Sainsbury’s does is that they put Lily right at the core of their business and change the name of the bread to “giraffe bread”.
I love this example so much that I’ve used it as an example in another article about customer advocacy that you may want to read as well.
Briefly to Conclude
Diving deep into the phrase “the customer is always right”, you can see that it is not only a saying that aims to comfort customers but instead, it is a saying that highlights the true importance of customer-centricity that creates a win-win relationship between a customer and a customer-centric business.
Including your customer in the processes of your business, you will begin to benefit from all the value that your loyal customers bring into your business. Throughout the article I wanted to tell you how important it is to be customer-centric and why you should put all the effort into it.
If you become customer-centric, you will collect the fruits of your efforts much much better.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you create a customer-centric strategy?
You should realize that it is a culture and start building this culture in each and everyone in your company. Later, hire and train in accordance with this culture. Be responsive to customer feedback and use data accordingly.
What is a customer-centric strategy?
It is the business strategy that puts your customer at the core of your business.
What are the 2 requirements for customer-centric marketing?
Empathy and good communication skills are crucial for customer-centric marketing.